Deer attacks Arenac County woman, who thought the buck was going to kill her

Deer was wearing an orange collar. Reports indicate the animal possibly lived with a family for a time.
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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AU GRES, Mich. (WJRT) - An incredible story where a woman walking outside her home was attacked by a charging deer.

The terrifying incident happened in Arenac County and the woman says her son most likely saved her life by scaring the deer off.

This deer might still be out there in that rural neighborhood, and believe it or not, the deer is wearing something distinctive so it can be identified.

The DNR is asking people to keep an eye out for the deer.

The deer is wearing a bright orange collar around its neck. The DNR has investigated the attack and it’s report indicates this might be a deer that someone had cared for at their home for some time and now that deer is loose and not afraid of humans, as Patty Willis can attest to.

“I looked and there was this deer standing at the fence with an orange collar,” says Willis.

Willis took the deer’s picture, and another one as well. It was September 26th, a Sunday morning. Minutes later, the deer was gone. Patty went to go to the chicken coup at her Au Gres home to feed the chickens. She caught something out of the corner of her eye.

“That deer was coming right at me with his antlers right down fast, he wasn’t just walking he was moving at me like he seen me and just wanted to kill me,” she says.

The deer had her pinned to the ground.

“I got a hold of his horns, his antlers and that’s where he kept...he was relentless,” Patty says.

She screamed for help.

“If somebody don’t hear me they are going to find me dead out here,” she remembered thinking.

“I seen this buck on top of her,” says her son, Luke, who heard the screams for help.

“It was goring with his antlers so I just took off from the back door, ran up to it roaring, making myself look as big as a grizzly bear,” he says, to try to scare the deer off.

The deer ran away, but Luke says the buck appeared to be threatening to attack again. He got his mom into the house.

“If I wouldn’t have seen that deer, I don’t where it would have got me, maybe in my side, my lungs it would have killed me,” she says.

Patty spent three days in the hospital. Gore wounds to her hands, legs and hip, 22 stiches in all, with injuries to her knee and shoulder as well.

The DNR investigated the attack and in its report, it indicates a person who lives in the area was keeping a fawn in his home in 2020. The family was warned it cannot keep the deer in captivity and it was let loose.

But after the attack on Willis, a man at the home was interviewed again, and stated his son may have possibly put the orange collar on the buck. There has been at least one other report of an aggressive deer in the area. Luke believes the animal is not scared of humans.

“When you domesticate a wild animal, it loses that fear,’ he says.

“It was dramatic, it was a very near-death experience, that’s the only way I can explain it and very life changing for me,” Patty says.

The DNR is saying there is no evidence of a crime at this point when it comes to the domestication of that deer in 2020, but they want hunters in that area and possibly the surrounding counties that if they see a deer with an orange collar around its neck to shoot it if they can do so safely.

Those that don’t hunt and see that deer are asked to call the DNR.

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